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29er Full Suspension Trail Ripper

From the rider:

"It was a Pinkbike post introducing the Swarf Contour that whet my appetite. Something about those skinny stays and the straight lines moved me to my core. I wanted a new bike and I'd been wondering about custom (I'm 6'5") for a while. A quick visit to Swarf's website confirmed the Contour wasn't for me because they don't export to North America, and I would prefer to support local anyway. Thus began my journey.

After a lot of research (seriously) and a significant amount of cyber-stalking, I emailed Peter (my first words were literally "I’ve been stalking you on Instagram and Facebook for a while, and have gone through your ‘latest builds’ section a few times." My vague idea was to ask Peter to build me something like the Swarf, but to my specs. I had ideas about reach, stack, chainstay length, lines and a 210mm dropper. I knew it would be a 29er and that it would be my "forever bike" (this was a big selling point to my wife, but I truly meant it, and still do!).

I had concerns about using steel: is it too heavy and is it too flexy? Peter was patient when explaining the trade-offs. This patience was continuously in evidence throughout the entirety of our build relationship, as I would ask about things I'd seen and he would suffer through me talking myself into, and then out of, gear-box drivetrains, hidden tools and onboard spare parts.

Peter remembered EVERYTHING I ever asked about, and would bring them back up after I had long given up dreaming about them. He asked for a lot of information, much of which I still don't really believe I gave him, although I tried. He built my full suspension mountain bike to give me the travel I wanted (firmly in the trail-bike category) but with the pedalling performance that I wanted. Quick jump to the end of this story: the bike is a rocket yet handles all the stupid sharp-edged hits and blind drops the Canadian Shield can throw at it!

The pandemic happened, and everything slowed down. Some parts suppliers forecast nearly a year (for a chain!?! FOR A CHAIN???!!!???) And yet some key parts were entirely on time (I have sacrificed some cheap beer on the alters of the wheel and suspension gods). Maybe this was a good thing: Peter revisited the idea of flexing seat stays and found a way to make them work. He found a way to eliminate the seat stay brace just like I dreamed. Too many little details to list, Peter found a way to do them all.

After five CAD versions (not including the decimal versions) I checked Instagram early one morning at the beginning of February 2021 and my heart gave a little flutter as my lungs involuntarily sucked in all the air in the immediate vicinity. Peter had posted a cryptic and dark set of photos that others had identified as a seat tube pivot point. Could it be? Is it? Yes it was!

The next few weeks were exciting times for me as Peter kept me and the world updated on progress on my bike. There were a few more decisions to be made as he went. My favourite is the rear brake mount. Unable to get the prefabricated brake mount we'd earlier specced, Peter looked at what other custom builders had done and presented me with a shortlist. We discussed the pros and cons, he mocked some up, and we settled upon our preferred solution. I couldn't be happier.

Finally it was time for paint. I think we were still waiting on the brakes, bottom bracket and seat collar (all Hope) but the stars were moving into alignment and we were hopeful that they would arrive about the same time the bike came back from the paint shop. As much as possible, I'd tried to stick to a Canadian build, but I've had a soft spot for Hope since I first started mountain biking. OK, the drivetrain is SRAM, but everything else is Raceface, OneUp and Woven.

It all worked out. I drove to Peter's place early one Saturday morning to pick up my new bike. The pandemic was still raging (well, not raging, but we were probably coming out of a third wave and it was never certain we'd be able to cross the border) but we kept our distance. I got to test ride on Peter's home trails (a definite test of pedalling and suspension performance), we cut down the steerer, I pronounced myself happy, and then I was off.

Seven months of riding later (my last "ride" on it was 18th Dec - no snow but glare ice - it wasn't much of a ride) my love has grown. This bike is the best. I can climb anything - I've been riding things this year that I've never ridden before. The front end stays planted and the rear end never loses traction. I've been descending everything too - we have some pretty good slabs round here and the bike is stable and confidence inspiring. We also have a lot of rock chunder and the bike ploughs through this too. I never did any really big rides this year, but there'll be time for that next summer.

The whole experience has been positive. This is my forever bike, and by next winter it should also be my all-year-round bike (Peter has already completed his own proof of concept by putting fat tires on his own bike, so I may be selling a Surly Pugsley in a few months...). For whatever reason (maybe the carbon wheels) the bike is plenty stiff, it's not heavy (32 lbs) and, cost-wise, it's cheaper than most of the bikes you see in the field tests without skimping on the spec. I would not hesitate to recommend that Peter build your next custom bike. Or, for that matter, any custom piece you want to put on your bike. It'll exceed your expectations.

I still look at it and smile. I already miss riding it, but know that we'll be back out there by the middle of April. And, after all this, my favourite bit was something Peter and I never even spoke about, and yet it's different from all his previous full-suspension builds but totally in keeping with the clean slim lines of the bike: it's the lower shock mounting. See what I mean? Exceeding my expectations :) "


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